Planning a chic, safe, festive 4th get-together

The fireworks just aren’t happening in Boston this year — understandably. Neither are any big events, music festivals or pool parties. We all know this, and hopefully we’ve all accepted it, even though it’s a huge bummer — because we’re keeping everyone as safe as we can. But does that really mean we can’t have any fun this July 4, 2020?

The answer: No. We can still celebrate, just in a low-key way. Think: in a backyard or on a deck with your bubble group, social distancing, still listening to your favorite tunes, grilling something delicious and easy, and sipping something intoxicating and refreshing. And of course: wearing something chic but festive (which, let’s face it, is never the easiest thing to do on this particular holiday, without looking like an actual American flag).

A few thoughts on how to do all of that? I’ve got them:

If you’re hosting, start by making sure you’re spacing chairs out six feet apart. If your gathering is in the backyard, you can have more than 10 people, but social distancing is key. Ask invitees to bring their masks in case things get closer and people get to drinking a little too much (because after a few, people tend to pay far less attention). Serve your guests, as opposed to buffet-style sharing of serving utensils.

Make sure party guests bring their own masks. Getty Images

In either case, put out plenty of disinfectant wipes — or, if you’re going to someone else’s house, just bring your own. Make sure you’ve got plenty of soap at the sinks, and put out a bottle of hand sanitizer at the bar, in the bathroom, and at your front door, so friends can stay safe.

Then bring on the (careful) good times with:

Patriotic details — Say it with flowers: This is an easy, high-impact, completely charming component. You want a great, big blue effect? Put a couple of delphinium in with some red carnations and towering white foxgloves. Or pull out some potted lavender and put it next to some white petunias and a vase of red roses. You get the point, right? Now you’re talking flowers at their best, in the most glorious and patriotic way possible. Nothing could be more summer-y or festive.

Red, white and blue flowers make a patriotic statement. Getty Images

Make candles a thing: On a table, white votive candles ($8 for 20 of them at are all you need (around the aforementioned red, white, and blue flowers) to make the night feel pretty special. But if you’ve also got a yard to play around with, bring out the tiki torches ($6.59 at on Not only do they make everything feel more fun, they also help keep the mosquitoes at bay, if you put citronella-scented fuel ($7.59 at in them.

Add citronella-scented fuel to your tiki torch, and mosquitoes will not be invited to your backyard party. Getty Images

Do not skimp on entertainment: I’m not saying your scintillating conversation isn’t enough. But just make extra sure you’re backed up with a great playlist (as in, create one you love beforehand). If you hate creating your own, iTunes has about 40 to choose from right now.

And hey, get the TV on. Even if the Pops sadly aren’t doing their usual thing on the Esplanade, the festivities are still going on in PBS’ national July 4th tradition, “A Capitol Fourth.” The hour-and-a-half program will include celeb performances from across the country, starting at 8 to 9:30 p.m.(, on PBS, Facebook or YouTube stream.

The biggest question, though, still remains: How to dress like a chic patriot for the occasion — i.e., someone looking to pay subtle homage to our Independence Day?

JULY 02, 2020 – Breezy maxi dress from Garnet Hill in navy. Photo from

So, let’s start with something easy, like this: a super-flattering fit and flared maxi dress in navy blue ($119 on — so gauzy (yet lined), you can wear it anywhere, all summer. It fits absolutely every body type. We all have some kind of maxi or midi dress basic like this, right? If not in blue, then red or white. Then just add on from there … a white or red shawl. A silver leather espadrille pump. The simpler, the better. No patterns necessary.

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